Alas, this is not isolated to the fringes of Europe. Bob finds an eloquent description of the same thing happening here on these shores, from Pat Buchanan of all people:
To understand why and how the Republican Party lost Middle America, and faces demographic death, we need to go back to Bush I.I studied economics back at State U, and so I understand the arguments that maximizing trade maximizes economic output, and by implication economic output per capita goes up. But there's a Jedi hand wave that occurs at that point: ceteris parabis, "all other things remaining the same". They don't. Even the Libertarians over at Reason make this hand wave.
At the Cold War’s end, the GOP reached a fork in the road. The determination of Middle Americans to preserve the country they grew up in, suddenly collided with the profit motive of Corporate America.
The Fortune 500 wanted to close factories in the USA and ship production abroad — where unions did not exist, regulations were light, taxes were low, and wages were a fraction of what they were here in America.
Corporate America was going global and wanted to be rid of its American work force, the best paid on earth, and replace it with cheap foreign labor.
While manufacturing sought to move production abroad, hotels, motels, bars, restaurants, farms and construction companies that could not move abroad also wanted to replace their expensive American workers.
Thanks to the Republican Party, Corporate America got it all.
And so we've seen the hollowing out of the American manufacturing work force, and now 12 Million immigrants will start taking barista jobs from new college graduates. Ceteris parabus, we're net better off. National Income per capita increases, corporate bottom lines swell, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
But the ceteris is never parabus. There are winners and there are losers. The losers are our neighbors.
Both political parties are co-conspirators against the middle class. Both of them.
But it probably doesn't matter: like the Prime Minister of Greece, someone else is calling the shots. The title of this post shows my thoughts on who that might be. On good days, I can run to optimistic. But there are days where it sure looks like we've completed the transition from democracy to oligarchy.
VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary